Amelia Andersdotter: Internet copyright laws? They can walk the plank, says Pirate Party politician

Ian Burrell talk to the Swedish MEP who wants free music and movie downloads to stop internet users being criminalised

For a self-proclaimed pirate, there’s not a lot of yo-ho-ho about Amelia Andersdotter. The youngest member of the European Parliament may be only 25 but she has serious work to do.

Specifically, she is determined to reform Europe’s copyright laws to prevent teachers, internet users and DJs ending up in court. For Ms Andersdotter and her colleagues in Sweden’s Pirate Party there should be no such thing as an illegal download.

File sharing of films or music reflects a basic desire to “expand cultural horizons” and should not be criminalised, she believes:  “Using culture as a common reference point in social interaction is so normal and so human that I think not allowing that in law does not make any sense at all.”

On a visit to Britain to participate in a debate on media piracy,  Ms Andersdotter said musicians and film-makers had no right to charge people for downloading their work for non-commercial use, and the public should be allowed to interact with it for free.

There are other ways to fund films and music, she said, for example, through sponsorship deals or live performances: “A lot of the European film industry is sponsored by public money already.”

“You don’t have the right to get money. If your idea was commercially uninteresting then maybe you need another idea,” she said.

The militant stance of the Pirate Party has resonated with voters in several countries since it founded in 2006. Its popularity has given rise to parties with the same name and similar goals in Europe and worldwide, forming the International Pirate Party movement.

In the UK it has made limited progress:  its most prominent figure, Lawrence “Loz” Kaye, stood at the Manchester Central by-election in November collecting 1.9 per cent of votes. Ms Andersdotter, former international co-ordinator of the party’s youth wing, is indisputably the party’s star attraction. In Brussels, Andersdotter sits on the Committee for Industry, Research and Energy, the committee on International Trade and the committee on Budgetary Control. She is involved in the parliament’s work in South Korea and with the Andean community.

The party’s history is tied to the notorious file-sharing website The Pirate Bay which, for 10 years, has shifted around the world to avoid prosecution. “They are being persecuted and they are living in legal uncertainty,” Andersdotter complained.

The MEP claims that copyright law is arcane but remains in place because of the power of industry bodies – record companies, film distributors, performance rights collectors and publishers – with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

Andersdotter, one of the speakers at the London School of Economics debate last week, does not believe the music business is struggling financially: “It funds itself fine, actually,” she insisted.

She argued that musicians and composers who produce content for remixers should make their money from concerts and deals with commercial streaming services: “The revenues in all cultural sectors are rising, and have been rising for many years. People are spending a larger amount of money today on cultural content even though they are also pirate copying a lot of material,” she said.

“What they aren’t having is freedom to interact with the cultural material they want, so we have criminal teachers (using downloads as classroom tools) and criminal teenagers interacting with cultural content.”

The music rights organisation PRS for Music took a different view: “If creators cannot earn from what they create, it is a hobby and not a business,” said its spokesman.

“Jobs, careers, livelihoods and the future of content creation on the scale we enjoy today would undoubtedly be harmed,” he said.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?